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8 November 2022
How the computer is learning to design furniture and to “generate” new forms of beauty
Will artificial intelligence design our homes? This question, which at first reading would seem related to the near future is much more topical than one thinks. Artificial intelligence is in fact already an active part for many design companies that entrust parts of the creative and production process to it. To better understand the dynamics that exist between human intelligence and machine, let’s take a step back and try to understand what artificial intelligence really is.
It is not, in fact, an abstract and autonomous entity but rather a discipline that, through a series of research and experimentation, designs machines capable of processing data through paths increasingly similar to those made by the brain. human. Therefore it is called “intelligence” because in designing its functioning the researchers are inspired by that of the human mind. It is a simulation of the human brain designed to evolve over time. How? Just like man, through study and experience it improve the ability to problem solving and by absorbing information, increases its performance.
“Machine learning” is precisely the possibility of increasing the “knowledge” of the machine and in this the machine gets closer and closer to man. It can be said that an artificial intelligence is able to process information and generate an output. An immediate example of its operation is the “text to image” path (from image to text): the machine is provided with a descriptive text and the machine produces an image with the characteristics provided by the text itself. In this basic procedure it is already possible to glimpse the application of artificial intelligence to architectural design which in its primeval form is the translation of a series of inputs into an image or drawing.
After all, there are free software on the net that create images from textual input. And while this type of free resource is more of a fun than a professional approach, it’s useful for understanding its logic and potential. Trivially, one might think that a creative looking for inspiration could give a series of inputs to have a design idea from which to start. The advanced goal is to interact with the machine and find better formal and functional solutions in an exchange of inputs and outputs made faster thanks to the machine.
“Generative design” is precisely an approach to design that involves the use of artificial intelligence to accelerate the formulation of better design hypotheses than those already implemented. Just as, with the same tool, you can, for example, give a two-dimensional image as an input and receive the related multidimensional image, necessary for the design, as an output. With an immediate reduction of time and costs but also the possibility of exploring many more possible solutions in a short time.
Not just engineering: in the context of a design supported by artificial intelligence, it is not only the structure of the furniture or architecture that is determined by the algorithm. Because the computer is also called upon to define the formal aspect of the project. Thus, we enter a new phase of the aesthetics of things, in which taste is no longer influenced only by the social context but also and in a very significant way by the machine. One wonders what digital aesthetics are anchored to, but the answer is simple if you think that in this case, too, the starting point is an input given by man.
That’s exactly what happened, for example, with the A.I. seat presented in 2019 by Kartell. The idea comes from Philippe Starck who for the first time designs furniture using artificial intelligence. And therefore, giving a series of inputs to the machine on the theme “designing a comfortable chair while minimizing the energy and material required”. The result is a chair entirely designed by the machine, the first in history, which will help us understand how and to what extent artificial intelligence will collaborate with the designer and how this revolution will affect the way we live and design our homes.
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